I am writing a piece for flute and piano and was going to call it divertimento. It is only a short 2-minute composition - apparently, divertimento/divertissement refers to a light chamber work. Does a duet for piano and flute count as chamber?

The full name I was intending is "Divertimento a capriccio". Can an Italian speaker confirm it makes sense? I believe it means "divertimento in the style of a caprice". The piece is short, sort of in binary form but the structure is not rigid. It's fast-paced at the beginning but more lyrical and slower in the second "section". Is this reflective of a "caprice"? I'm scared the slow part may contradict with the title

Thanks for any advice

  • Hope you mean instruments, as interment is being buried!!
    – Tim
    Aug 31, 2020 at 7:59
  • You know what "divertimento" means? Have you searched for examples for duos? Isn't a duet a chamber work too? And if there aren't any? You would be the composer of the first divertimento for a duo. Aug 31, 2020 at 8:15
  • Speaking as a songwriter, I believe composers figured out long ago how to break out of convention: Call your work a diversion, caprice, rhapsody, suite, gymnopédie, or gnossienne — and you can structure it as you like! Aug 31, 2020 at 14:47
  • 1
    @YosefBaskin - Even some of those piece types have their own unwritten standards. I've never heard of or listened to a fast gymnopédie or a fast gnossienne, suites are always multiple movements long, and a rhapsody tends to the long side.
    – Dekkadeci
    Sep 1, 2020 at 11:45

2 Answers 2


Isn't it up to the composer to call his work like he wants?

I wrote a piece and thought this is not a prelude. So I called it afterlude. Later I found out that there are compositions existing named "postlude". (I think this is a better title - as after makes me think somehow of the anus!)

Divertimento Capriccioso would be a fine title!

If I were Beethoven and had only written the first movement of his 5th symphony I would call it "cappricio" or a musical joke. Now it is called "Schicksals-Symphonie" (symphony of fate).


Mozart's divertimenti scoring ranges from 10 instruments to a trio and Haydn named some solo piano works "divertimento" so I don't think the instrumentation is a defining aspect.

Regarding length and movements I think the basic format follow that of a symphony - four movements - or additional movements added to those four. When the additional movements are added it seems to me more like the Baroque dance suite where additional movements are added to increase the size rather than making larger movements. You see things like minuet 1 and minuet 2, simple additions.

Why the additional movements? I think of the divertimento as a more functional composition rather than an intellectual work (like a fugue or symphony) that was meant as background music to some social event. To make the lighthearted music last longer for the event, more movements are added together. But length really doesn't seem to be an important factor either. The Haydn keyboard divertimenti are all very short.

From your title I expect a lighthearted, fun piece. You might consider tacking on a fast ending movement to end a bit more upbeat and fun.

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